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To His Conscience

Author of work:
Robert Herrick
Can I not sin, but thou wilt beMy private protonotary?Can I not woo thee, to pass byA short and sweet iniquity?I'll cast a mist and cloud uponMy delicate transgression,So utter dark, as that no eyeShall see the hugg'd impiety.Gifts blind the wise, and bribes do pleaseAnd wind all other witnesses;And wilt not thou with gold be tied,To lay thy pen and ink aside,That in the mirk and tongueless night,Wanton I may, and thou not write?--It will not be: And therefore, now,For times to come, I'll make this vow;From aberrations to live free:So I'll not fear the judge, or thee.

About the author

Robert Herrick photo
Robert Herrick
289 works

About the poet

Clergyman and poet, Robert Herrick was born in London, the seventh child of Nicholas Herrick, a wealthy goldsmith. In November 1592, two days after making a will, his father killed himself by jumping from the fourth-floor window of his house. However, the Queen's Almoner did not confiscate the Herrick estate for the crown as was usually the case with suicides. There is no record of Herrick attending school. In 1607 he was apprenticed to his uncle Sir William Herrick as a goldsmith.

'A Country Life: To his Brother M. Tho. Herrick' (1610) is Herrick's earliest known poem, and deals with the move from London to farm life in Leicestershire. 'To My Dearest Sister M. Merice Herrick' was written before 1612. He entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1613, and became friends with Clipsby Crew to whom he addressed several poems such as 'Nuptial Song'. He graduated a Bachelor of Arts in 1617, Master of Arts in 1620, and in 1623 he was ordained priest. By 1625 he was well known as a poet, mixing in literary circles in London such as that of Ben Jonson. In 1629 he was presented by Charles I to the living of Dean Prior, a remote parish of Devonshire. The best of his work was written in the peace and seclusion of country life; 'To Blossoms' and 'To Daffodils' are classical depictions of a devoted appreciation of nature.

However, having refused to subscribe to The Solemn League and Covenant, he was ejected from Devonshire in 1647. He then returned to London publishing his religious poems Noble Numbers (1647), and Hesperides (1648). He was distinguished as a lyric poet, and some of his love songs, for example, 'To Anthea' and 'Gather Ye Rose-buds' are considered exceptional . In 1660 he was reinstated at Dean Prior where he lived for the remainder of his life. He wrote no more poems after 1648, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard at Dean Prior.

ping from the fourth-floor window of his house. However, the Queen's Almoner did not confiscate the
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